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222                                      VERDICT  OX INDIA
To sacrifice such an experience because of the danger of a few
bugs seems, to say the least of it, unenterprising.
"Have you any real Indian fnends ?'
"Friends ? Well—I know some quite decent Indians. S'matter
of fact, some really quite decent Indians. But I wouldn't exactly
call them friends."
That is perhaps the major tragedy; the gulf does exist, and
most people, however hard they try, are unable to bridge it.
The immortal garden-party which opens the pages of E.M.
Forster^s A Passage to India is not a thing of the past; it is still
being held on a thousand Indian lawns. Admittedly, the ranks
have drawn closer, the white and the dark—the figures intermingle,
saree and muslin, Gandhi cap and panama, and there are not so
many awkward pauses in the conversation, for the British hosts
are not quite so sure of their position nowadays, while the Indian
guests are quite sure of theirs. None the less, it is really the same
garden-party; rob it of its extra airs and graces, turn on it the
searchlight of an impartial critical intelligence, and you will find
that it is the same scene ; the white is not really mixing with the 4
dark, the sarce is not realty blending with the muslin.. .the East
is not meeting the West.
Mind you, it is not all the fault of the British—not by any
means. Very often, when the British hold out their hands, the
Indians refuse to shake them. Here is an example. Most of the
clubs m the hill-stations are mixed; members meet on terms of
perfect equality; provided that they pay their subscriptions, no
questions are asked, no privileges given.
So far, so good—in theory. But in, practice, what happens ?
The Indian men refuse to allow their wives and daughters to
come to the club. They come themselves, night after uight, they
dance with the wives of British officers, but their women folk stay
at home. Aud that annoys the British, particularly the young
male British. Even in the houses of comparatively 'advanced'
Indians the women are often locked away out of sight as though
one would jump on them if offered the opportunity.
Needless to say, this is a mere pinprick, but it is the same sort*
of pinprick as the Indians themselves experience when they are
the -victims of colour-prejudice at home.   It is therefore salutary